Inflating more than 50% since 2017, the annual price of newly launched cancer drugs averages $283,000 in 2022, according to a new report from the office of U.S. Representative Katie Porter (D-CA). Although new drugs for any condition are also seeing record-breaking high prices, the cost of new anticancer therapeutics is 3.7 times higher than that of non-oncology drugs.

The skyrocketing inflation is a substantial disparity for certain populations in particular, Porter’s office said. That level of out-of-pocket cost is unattainable for the 26.4 million Americans without insurance or many of the 68.9 million who are underinsured. Even Americans with insurance face financial hardship: The office cited a 2022 study in which 28.3% of Medicare patients failed to fill new prescriptions for cancer drugs.

Porter’s office developed the report to support her proposed solution: She first introduced the Freedom From Price Gouging Act in the U.S. House in April 2021, which was included as a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed into law in August 2022. However, given the findings published in the report, the office said that more needs to be done. Porter recommended that U.S. Congress develop additional legislation to:

  • Negotiate fair drug pricing based on patient benefit and clinical effectiveness.
  • Regulate prices for drugs launching under accelerated approval, particularly for drugs with incomplete confirmatory trials.

“Prescription cancer drugs have the potential to extend and save lives for patients diagnosed with cancer. But when priced out of reach for patients, a medical innovation is not a miracle,” Porter said. “A prescription cannot save a life if it goes unfilled.”

To reduce disparities and inability to access care, oncology nurses must advocate to support affordable treatments. Learn more about advocating for policies to address financial toxicity on the Oncology Nursing Podcast Episode 62: Financial Toxicity Legislation.